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INQUEST responds to IPCC report on Police use of force

7 March 2016

Many of the findings of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report published today reflect and reinforce long-standing evidence produced by INQUEST from our casework and monitoring of inquests into deaths involving police use of force.

INQUEST Director, Deborah Coles said:

“INQUEST’s casework points to a disturbing trend in which the use of force has disproportionately affected vulnerable individuals and people from black and minority ethnic communities. Too often inquest evidence reveals an alarming resort to the use of force and an increasing reliance on restraint and restraint equipment despite obvious risks to the health and safety of detainees.

Time and again failings are identified at inquests and yet there is insufficient accountability at an individual or corporate level. Learning is not sustained, it does not become embedded in future approach and practise, and we see the same mistakes and patterns repeat themselves with fatal consequences.”

Notes to editors

The IPCC report on the use of force can be found here

IPCC findings include:

  • There is currently no standardised national practice for police forces to record and monitor all types of force used;
  • One in five of those involved in IPCC investigations into use of force were known to have mental health concerns. They were four times more likely to die after force had been used than those not known to be mentally ill;
  • There is a significant gap in forces’ ability to reassure themselves that their practices are not disproportionately affecting certain communities: in a quarter of complaints about the use of force, ethnicity was not recorded;
  • Across a five-year period, where IPCC investigations were carried out, over one in four (29%, 60) people involved were from a BAME background.

INQUEST has submitted evidence and provided guidance to a range of parliamentary committees and public bodies. These include: our contributions to 2013/2014 'Casale' review (the IPCC commissioned independent review into the investigation of Sean Rigg's death) and oral and written submissions to the 2014 Home Affairs Select Committee review of policing and mental health. 

INQUEST also remains concerned about the use of force on children and the physical and psychological impact of harmful practices against this vulnerable group. 

INQUEST Director Deborah Coles has been appointed special advisor to the Home Officer Independent Review into Deaths in Police Custody. The Review will consider many of these issues in further detail. 

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